Employee Value Proposition

Is WFM becoming the new HR?

For many years HR practitioners have been fighting among themselves and with their executive management about the value and importance of HR, Talent management and HR technology. It’s often been an ugly and public battle of personal believes and experience rather than factual and evidence based findings. What’s more, HR people have very strong opinions about being the people behavioural experts and find it very displeasing when they are challenged in this area of how to best manage people in an organization.

Coupled with this is the lack of a clear relationship between HR and company profits and value. Certainly most of the operations people I have met, don’t fully understand the value link that HR purports to have, and often are following processes which HR drives (e.g. Performance management, Goal setting and Career planning) from a compliance perspective rather than a clear business value perspective. While I have no doubt that professional HR has got lots of value to offer, in the most, these departments are too keen to adopt the ‘next flavour of the month’, implement someone else’s ‘best practice’ and expect line managers to love their technology solutions that mostly make the HR’s departments life easier, but are often seen as extra work for the operations and line managers.

It’s a sad state of affairs, but it’s not all doom and gloom…..someone has been listening and doing something about it.

Unfortunately it’s not the general HR fraternity, but rather Operations managers and WFM vendors. After years of experiencing the effects of HR’s ongoing battle with itself, Ops managers have decided to ‘just get on with it’ and are enhancing and using WFM people solutions that are linked directly to the P&L account, have the ability to show exactly where money is being spent, can use real-time data to enhance business decisions and in the process, engage with their employees and optimize productivity – just what the executives ordered!. And as business leaders continue to drive out unnecessary cost and increase productivity, the business cases behind these new WFM tools is simple. Quite often they can easily save an organisation a minimum of 1-2% on annual employee costs and can generate a return on investment (ROI) in months.

All this is quietly happening while HR continues to argue among themselves and promise their organisations that {insert your favourite HR fad here} will change the world.

In some cases HR has ownership of WFM tools, but mostly they are not the primary owners, but rather have a secondary role ensuring the accuracy of data flows between HR, Payroll and the WFM solutions. Many in HR may be thinking the core of a WFM solution is nothing different from the Time management functionality in their HR system which provides scheduling and rostering capability. While there are many similarities between HR and WFM solutions, over the last 5 years the complexity around awards and labour agreement interpretation, as well as the need to plan and optimize people, assets, geo-location, customer needs and competitive business strategies, has seen the explosion of specialist functionality in WFM tools that would not easily be replicated in HR solutions, especially newer SaaS based HR software.

And while HR is demanding to be the source of truth for all things people, but never quite getting the alignment with day-to-day business practices right, WFM vendors saw the gap to add functionality into their software that has traditionally been the domain of HR and Talent systems. It’s now pretty common to see WFM software solutions with Employee self-service (ESS) capability, Mobility, Leave & absence management, Competency & skills management, Employee costing & budgeting management, Planned versus actual task management (goal setting) and even Engagement capability which support team or individual recognition (often using gamification), shift swapping based on personal needs and survey capability to highlight how staff are feeling about their assigned rosters and work assignments.

What WFM solutions are achieving in the people management space is nothing short of amazing – HR is envious! The reason it’s so successful is the seamless integration with operations management activities. And it doesn’t stop there. Modern WFM tools are branching out and building links and capability to Planned-maintenance, Sales & forecasting, Contingent labour management and Financial management solutions.

In many respects WFM is winning the people effectiveness battle at the operations level. Some WFM vendors are not stopping their advancement into HR’s space either with a number of HR and Payroll acquisitions by WFM vendors taking place recently. Perhaps it is WFM that will become the new HR, at least at the operating and tactical level, leaving the strategic people activities to the current HR functions. Watch this space.

Thanks to Shane Granger @gmggranger for promting the idea over the week-end


Influence vs Environment : an HR Employee Value Proposition

I’ve never done it before! – sat on an idyllic beach, looking out over the deep blue sea, working on my laptop. Well her e I am in the 5 star Hilton Hotel in Kuwait, sitting under an Arabian tent, scattered with Persian carpets and low, comfy couches, looking out over the calm Gulf waters, intermittently spoilt by a large oil tanker passing by (and reminding me of the riches of this region)

Amazingly I’m not on Holiday either – but have a few hours to waste before heading off to the airport for my 15 hour flight back to Sydney. All of this got me thinking about the importance of the work environment – Here I am being highly productive (done 2 presentations, answered some mails, reviewed a client document and managed to write this blog), spurred on by something that is causing me to feel almost euphoric . Would I have got so much done at the office? – Definitely not- too many distractions and people. Would I have done as much sitting at my home office – More than the work office probably, but still would not have felt as relaxed and keen to do more as I am at the moment.

If I were a Talent director, considering my Employee Value Proposition, then recreating this relaxing influence (note I said influence, not environment) would be a real winner. Imagine having staff feeling so relaxed and highly productive – the creativity and energy would be mind boggling.

We’ve all heard about the Google work environment – is this an example of a relaxing influence (which is what I am experiencing) or a relaxed environment (spatially inviting and culturally aligned to a sense of freedom). I think the two (influence and environment) are different, although I concede that the immediate environment has an important role. Knowing a few people who work at Google – they love their work environment, but after the mystique fades, they are not significantly less stressed or more productive that people I know who work in highly structured and rigid organisations.

Perhaps this has been a moment in my life that “The Planets all Aligned”; I hope this is not the case, because I would love to have this happen to me every day. I don’t know the whole answer, but perhaps it has something to do with me being able to create an experience that suited me – maybe organisations need to provide a framework for operating that allows people to create their own experience. Food for thought – I do know that next time I’m in Kuwait – I’ll be back under my tent with my laptop.